(The time: August, 2015)
"College Counseling, this is Patrick O'Connor."
"Are you the college counselor?"
"Why, yes, yes I am. How can I help you?"
"Well, I'm a freshman at Smedley College, and I need your help."
"Getting into college?"
"No, I'm already in college, but I don't like it here."
"So you'd like to transfer to another college?"
"No, no. I want you to fix my college."
"You want me to fix--?"
"Yes. They changed it."
"Right. I got here last week for freshmen orientation, and things were great. My freshmen studies class had 14 students, my earliest class started at 10, and I had a cute corner dorm room in Anna Smedley Hall."
"This sounds perfectly tranquil."
"Not only that, it was pretty cool."
"Today they call an all-school meeting--there's only 800 of us--to announce an austerity plan."
"The budget is short by a million dollars, so they have to pare down a little. So they merge my freshmen studies class with another one that meets at 8 AM, it now has 25 students in it, and they're closing Anna Smedley Hall. Now I have two roommates, and I live in Phredley Smedley Hall across campus."
"Oh my. How will you cope?"
"Tell me about it."
"Did they happen to tell you why they came up short by a million dollars?"
"That's the kicker. They planned on too many students."
"Too many students?"
"They figured 200 were going to show up, and only 180 arrived. Tuition is $50,000, so twenty fewer students is a million less bucks."
"So it is."
"Hence, the austerity."
"But what made them think 200 were coming? Did they only get 180 deposits?"
"Oh no. The other twenty double deposited."
"Sorry. They what?"
"Double deposited--you know, where they put in an enrollment deposit in more than one college last spring, so they would have more time to decide what college to attend. When fall rolls around, they choose one college where they've deposited, and tell the others they aren't coming. Surely you've heard of this, Dr. O'Connor."
"I have. I'm just surprised a college freshman would know so much about it."
"Well of course I know a lot about it. I doub--uh, that is, I--I heard our president talk about it at the assembly. Yeah. That's it."
"And I'm sure your president told you how hard it is for colleges to build budgets when students double deposit."
"Yeah, and I'm living proof. People think the college can just go to the waitlist and admit another student, but you can't do that the day before school starts. Who's going to take an offer for admission the day before school opens?"
"That's exactly what I tell all of my students and their parents, but it doesn't seem to really hit them, until--"
"Until they're at the college of their dreams, and the double deposits of other students lead to doubled class sizes and the closing of dorms."
"We try to tell them that they don't want to be a victim of double deposits, so they shouldn't be a perpetrator, either."
"My counselor told me the same thing. I only wish I--"
"I--I didn't have to deal with this."
"I'm sorry I can't be of help."
"Actually, you can. Send all of your students to Smedley next fall, and make sure they single deposit."
"You don't want this to happen to next year's freshmen?"
"Or me. One year of this is bad enough."
(The time: August, 2015)